JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
It was filed by an inmate who was sexually assaulted by an officer.
“There are all kinds of abuse that goes on in prison,” said attorney Jeremiah Denton.
The abuse led to the arrest of a Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail officer and the federal lawsuit.
“That jail has had a history of women being sexually exploited in it,” Denton added.
Denton recently filed the lawsuit on behalf of a former inmate. He says she was abused 15 times in a year by Henry Rhim.
Rhim, who was convicted for the crime, had worked at the James City County jail for 13 years.
“The problem with the jail is that they allow the male guards to supervise the female inmates in isolated circumstances and completely unsupervised,” Denton said.
Rhim abused the inmate while she was working in the laundry area. On several occasions Rhim put his hands under the victim’s clothes, touching her in private places.
“She got physically, intimately, sexually assaulted repeatedly and there is nothing she could do to stop it,” Denton added.
Denton tells 10 On Your Side there have been four other similar reported cases inside the jail over the past 15 years. He says he hopes the lawsuit sends a message to all jails and prisons.
“You’d hope this would be a shot across the bow so to speak at other prisons,” Denton added.
Virginia Peninsula Regional Superintendent Tony Pham says he doesn’t comment on pending litigation. We asked if any policy changes have been made after the instances of alleged abuse, but never got an answer.